On 6 November 2015 Anthony Nicholls of Mitcham, Victoria was convicted of three charges contrary to s184(2)(a) of the Corporations Act 2001 of having used his position as a director of Peton Properties Pty Ltd and Zantholls International Pty Ltd dishonestly by authorising the withdrawal and transfer of monies held by and on behalf of the companies to gain an advantage for himself. The charges were committed between 8 October 2004 and 15 August 2005.
Former property director, 61-year-old Anthony Nicholls of Mitcham, Victoria was sentenced to a total effective sentence of four years and six months and ordered to serve 3 years imprisonment before being released for having used his position as a director of Peton Properties Pty Ltd and Zantholls International Pty Ltd dishonestly by authorising the withdrawal and transfer of monies held by and on behalf of the companies to gain advantage for himself.
Between October 2004 and August 2006 Nicholls used the two companies to raise investment funds for the purported development of two property developments in Ballarat, Victoria, known respectively as Ibis Gardens /Wetlands Estate and La Trobe Estate .
Investor monies were paid into either the trust account of a New South Wales based law firm, Antunes Lawyers and Advocates, or into the Peton Properties NAB bank account. A large proportion of the investor funds were applied for purposes other than the intended purposes of developing the purported property developments. A significant proportion of the investment monies were used for the advantage of Nicholls. Nicholls pleaded guilty to having authorised the withdrawal of $756,908.31 of the investment monies and gaining directly or indirectly an advantage for himself. The funds were applied to his own benefit.
Nicholls purportedly provided guarantees of the financial obligations incurred by Peton Properties or Zantholls International but Nicholls did not have the means or intention of meeting the financial obligations. The La Trobe Estate/Carngham Road development was never capable of being redeveloped in the manner or timeframe described to investors.
Zantholls International and Peton Properties raised investor funds totalling approximately four million dollars over the period 2004 to 2006. Nearly all of the investors lost their investment money.
Peton Properties was placed into liquidation in October 2007. A report lodged by the liquidator with ASIC on 6 July 2009 identified that the company had a net deficiency of over $4,000,000 and identified suspected contraventions of the Corporations Act 2001 by the directors of the company. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission commenced its investigation in September 2009. Nicholls was arrested on the 2 January 2013.
On 6 November 2015 Nicholls was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court to a total effective sentence of 4 years and 6 months and was ordered pursuant to section 20(1)(b) of the Crimes Act 1914 to be released after serving a period of 3 years upon giving security by entering into a recognisance in the sum of $2000 on condition he be of good behaviour for a period of 18 months.
On the 30 November 2016 the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld an appeal by Nicholls against the severity of the sentence imposed on him by the Melbourne County Court. The Court of Appeal re-sentenced Nicholls to a total effective sentence of 3 years and 6 months with a non-parole period of 2 years and 6 months.